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'You can't pray the gay away': Threats of violence made, protest held over beliefs of new church in Kelowna

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A new church in B.C.'s Okanagan has prompted protests and even threats of violence due to its publicly posted beliefs.

The criticism of and action against Praxis Church in Kelowna has been in response to a statement on the church's website, which includes that believers should support marriage only between men and women.

"We believe that divorce, adultery and homosexuality constitute a violation of God's intention for marriage and sexuality as laid out in the Holy Bible. We do not condone same sex marriage or homosexual lifestyles," the church's website says

Additionally, the church claims anyone who doesn't identify as cisgender, meaning their personal identity and gender don't correspond with their sex, has been influenced by "sin of the world."

The church's website also says its vision is to "plant" similar churches throughout the Okanagan, which will be geared towards recruiting younger people, those who've recently moved to the area, and what it describes as "the unchurched."

A small group of protesters stood outside the church on Sunday carrying a Pride flag and signs, including one that read, "You can't pray the gay away," according to

The protest's organizer told Castanet her intention was to show residents in the LGBTQ+ community that they are supported.

The church's pastor, Josh Dool, posted a video on Facebook at the end of July, which he called a response to some of the controversy. He said criticism has spread online across the country, and the church has even received threats of violence.

In his video, Dool suggested the beliefs posted on the church's website have led to assumptions that may not be accurate.

He said just because a member or the church itself disagrees with someone doesn't mean they hate or fear that person. Additionally, he said that loving someone doesn't mean a person agrees with everything they do.

He called these beliefs "nonsense," and said, "For the record, we don't hate anyone. We don't require anyone to adhere to a set of moral codes or standards in order to show up to Praxis." 

Dool said the statement of faith isn't being posted anywhere other than its site, and there is no intention to legislate any of its beliefs.

Acknowledging comments coming from across Canada, he said the beliefs were part of "an internal document," which was posted in response to questions from those in the community about where the church stands.

He said he believes "obedience to Jesus is the pathway to the most joy in life… We desire people to enter into this joy, but we want to be a church where people can come and skirt the edges and check it out and see what it means, wrestle through what it means, to be a follower of Jesus."

In the church's definition of what it means, this involves following the Bible as the inerrant word of God. Top Stories

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